Uncovering Fukuoka: 8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Japan’s Underrated City


Nasreen Nasir •  Jan 04, 2019

Going to Japan but looking to skip Tokyo and Osaka this time around? We feel you. For a land with 47 prefectures made up by a whopping 6000 islands, Japan definitely has a lot more to offer - like Fukuoka! This northern part of Japan’s Kyushu island is packed with ancient temples, beaches, and modern shopping malls.

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Plus, this underrated gem was ranked in the top ten most liveable cities in the world by Monocle’s Quality of Life survey in 2016. So, if you’re looking to go off the beaten path and avoid crowds, Fukuoka is the place for you and here’s 8 reasons why we think you should start planning your next Japan adventure! ?

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  • Get $20 flight discount to any city in Japan. Use code: GOJAPAN
  • Get $35 flight discount to Sapporo, Nagoya and Fukuoka. Use code: GOJAPAN35

PS. Flying from Malaysia? Check out Budgetair.com for great deals!

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1. You can find delicious halal local food!

Yagoro Kashii

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Embark on your halal food hunt with some yummy soba at Yagoro Kashii. This establishment prides itself with being one of the best places in Fukuoka to indulge in authentic Japanese cuisine. You can choose between having only the soba noodles or you can order the set that comes with an additional bowl of rice topped with shrimp tempura.

The best part about this eatery is that all Muslim meals are prepared separately in a different kitchen with extra precautions. Don’t forget to end your feast with a bowl of Anmitsu bean jelly - a Japanese dessert with cubes of agar-agar jelly, and fresh fruits drizzled with sweet red bean paste.

Address: 5-14-23 Chihaya, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka

Opening Hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs - Sun, 10:30am–7:00pm (last order 6:00pm) Closes on Wed.

Phone Number: 092-681-2458

Naniwa Sushi

What’s a trip to Japan without trying its sushi? However, most of the shops prepare their sushi rice with mirin (alcohol) so it can be a tad bit challenging to locate one that doesn’t. Fret not, we’ve got you covered!

Credit: Naniwa Sushi on Facebook

Located near Sumiyoshi Shrine, the chef at Naniwa uses only the freshest seafood and natural seasonings to make the true flavours from the sushi stand out. With that, only natural vinegar is used to make the sushi rice and no alcohol is added to the shoyu sauce. If you’re a die-hard sushi fan, this is a restaurant you must not miss! You can order the chef’s platter starting from 3,000 JPY and with that price, you can enjoy more than 12 different kinds of seafood, from salmon to tuna and abalone.

Address: 4-6-21 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku

Phone Number: 092-473-8448

Opening Hours: Daily, 5:00pm-12:00am.

Hakata Toyoichi

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If you’re around Hakata Port, you’d be surprised that you can find a Muslim-friendly sushi spot! ? Even though they only serve seafood in the premise, alcohol can still be found in the shoyu sauce and alcoholic beverages are sold, thus we advise that Muslim patrons dine at their own discretion. For big eaters, the tempura teishoku is a must-try. Crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside, you’ll want to order more! ?

Address: 13-6 Chikkōhonmachi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka-ken 812-0021 (Bayside Place HAKATA)

Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00am - 8:00pm.

Phone Number: +81 92-262-2425

2. Home to some of Japan’s top cherry blossom spots

When it comes to the cherry blossom season, more often than not, visitors would think of Osaka and Tokyo, but you’d be surprised that Fukuoka is widely believed to the best place to see the flowers in action. Witness the season in all its glory from late March to early April and go crazy over sakura at these parks:

Nishi Park

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Arguably the best spot to chase the cherry blossoms, visitors can expect around 1,300 sakura trees at Nishi Park during Spring. From the likes of Someiyoshino and Yamazakura, you’ll find a variety of sakura flowers at the Cherry Blossom Valley. While you stroll around the park, you’ll even enjoy panoramic views of the Fukuoka city, Hakata Bay from the Central, East and West Scenic Plazas.

Hosshin Park

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Tucked against the gorgeous backdrop of Mount Mino, Hosshin Park is a close second when it comes to the best cherry blossom spot. Locals have used this park to their advantage, using the wide-open space for various activities like picnic. For anyone who’s looking to soak in the greenery can definitely visit this place. If time permits, make your way to the Hosshin Sansha Daigongen Shrine or check out the stone table that’s inscribed with a haiku poem by renowned Edo Era poet, Matsuo Basho.

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park

Credit: @uminonakamichiseasidepark on Instagram

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park measures nearly four kilometres from one end to another as it is made up of several different areas like the flower gardens where visitors can see the cherry blossoms, playgrounds for the little ones, an amusement park with a Ferris wheel and so much more. Aside from being an ideal place to hunt for the sakura trees, you can also spot people cycling around the park. As the park is quite spacious, visitors can enjoy the luxury of renting a bicycle and cycle along the designated trails or a bus ride that operates between the park’s major sites.

3. It’s full of cultural sights

Fukuoka may be known as one of the best places in Japan to spot cherry blossoms, but did you know that it’s also famous for its stunning ancient sites? From the mysterious castle ruins to dazzling temples and shrines, Fukuoka is a melting pot of culture and history!

Fukuoka Castle Ruins

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Located in the middle of Maizuru Park, Fukuoka Castle was once the largest castle on the Kyushu island. After the Meiji Restoration, the castle was completely demolished as it was considered an unwanted symbol of the feudal past. Today, only gates and guard towers remain on the castle grounds and visitors are welcomed to find them along the walking trails.

Ohori Park

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Walk a little further from Maizuru Park and you’ll come across Ohori Park, a city park that’s located in central Fukuoka. Famed for the large pool at its center, Ohori Park is popular for jogging, walking pets and leisure strolls by the water. It’s the ideal place when you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature. The pond was once part of Fukuoka Castle’s moat too so try to spot some of the ruins while you’re there!

Dazaifu Tenmangu

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Continue your trip with a visit to Dazaifu Tenmangu – the head Tenmangu shrine in all of Japan. Towering over the streets of Dazaifu city, we daresay that your trip to Fukuoka wouldn’t be complete without a visit to this shrine. On its grounds, you’ll come across a lively atmosphere with souvenir shops lined at the end of the street and locals visiting to pray for success as the shrine was built to honour Tenjin, a Shinto deity of education. If time permits, take a little stroll around the premise and find as many as 6000 of plum trees around!

4. There’s a cat island nearby!

Yes, we’re not kidding when we say that there’s a cat haven right in the heart of Ainoshima Island that’s situated just one hour from Fukuoka! The best one-day retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, visitors will be greeted by a clowder of cats.

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As the island’s main industry is fishing, the local fishermen were met with rodent issues once upon a time. The cats then came into the picture to manage the issues and eventually, they made Ainoshima Island their home and the population grew. To any cat enthusiast, this is the ultimate paradise!

Credit: @ikmmmm_ on Instagram

Although the access is a little complicated as you have to take a train/bus and a ferry to reach the island, we still think it’s definitely worth the journey as adorable and not to mention tame cats await! Bring your camera along as you can take lots of selfies with the feline.

5. Enjoy fresh seafood

Fukuoka Yanagibashi Fish Market

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As with other cities in Japan, a fish market is a must-visit. In Fukuoka, you’ll find Yanagibashi Rengo Market. Affectionately known as “Fukuoka Kitchen”, this wet market is similar to the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. Here you can find a variety of fishes like the common salmon to the exotic whale.

Credit: @jimmywatt222 on Instagram

Stop by a stall or two and enjoy the fresh sashimi and rice prepared by the friendly vendors. Though we cannot locate any Muslim-friendly stall, we do advise readers to dine at their own discretion. The best way to find out is to ask the vendors beforehand so they’re aware of our dietary restrictions.

6. Stay in the heart of Fukuoka at Muslim-friendly accommodations


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THE LIFE Hostel is a popular choice among travellers because of its location near Canal City Hakata. The hostel doesn’t just offer dormitory rooms, but family rooms as well so parents with kids can definitely enjoy the privilege of staying at this comfy hostel. THE LIFE also offers bicycles for rent to wander around the area, which is an awesome option if you prefer not to walk for miles.

#HHWT Tip: Though they do not have a Halal menu, they do offer some vegetarian options. We advise you to dine at your own discretion.

Address: 812-0038 Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Hakataku Gionmachi 8-13, Japan

Phone Number: +81 92-292-1070

Book here

Hotel New Otani Hakata

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The search for extravagance infused with warm Japanese hospitality ends here at Hotel New Otani. Conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from Watanabe-dori Subway Station, each room is fitted with the basic amenities like a flat-screen TV, video-on-demand programmes and a fridge. Muslim guests at New Otani Hakata Hotel can also enjoy Halal meals that are prepared separately using only halal-certified ingredients. Do note that you’ll need to make a request at least 3 days in advance.

#HHWT Tip: The hotel also provides praying mats and Qiblah indicators upon request.

Address: 810-0004 Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Chuo-ku Watanabe Dori 1-1-2, Japan

Phone Number: +81 92-714-1111

Book here

Enjoy amazing flight deals from Singapore to Japan by booking your tickets with CheapTickets.sg from NOW till 31st January 2019:

  • Get $20 flight discount to any city in Japan. Use code: GOJAPAN
  • Get $35 flight discount to Sapporo, Nagoya and Fukuoka. Use code: GOJAPAN35

PS. Flying from Malaysia? Check out Budgetair.com for great deals!

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7. Shop at Fukuoka’s largest mall

What is travelling without some shopping? ? For a town its size, Fukuoka does offer shopping opportunities for visitors.

Canal City Hakata

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The largest shopping complex in Fukuoka, Canal City is built around an artificial canal that runs through the entire place. With over 250 shops and restaurants, a cinema, a theatre, amusement facilities, a game centre and 2 high-class hotels - it’s no wonder why this commercial complex is called a city within a city!

#HHWT Tip: There is no designated prayer room around the premise, thus Muslim visitors are advised to plan your time accordingly to avoid missing prayers.

Kawabata Shotengai

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If you’re looking for something a little more authentic and affordable, Kawabata Shotengai in downtown Fukuoka won’t disappoint. This shopping street has been around since before WWII, and it’s home to 100 shops ranging from fashion stores, souvenir shops, and restaurants. With less fancy shops and more cheap retailers, you’ll be able to indulge in a shopping spree while getting a glimpse of how the locals live.

8. Witness the colourful festivals

Thanks to its unique and rich culture, Fukuoka plays host to a wide range of fun festivals. As the locals love them, there isn’t a month that goes by without a festival. From massive spectacles to smaller festivals, visitors are bound to have a great time!

Hakata Dontaku Festival

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Held during Golden Week, the 2-day Dontaku Festival has been celebrated for more than 800 years! Every year, the carnival brings nearly 2 million people together. The main highlight of the festival is the Dontaku parade that stretches for 1,230 metres along Meiji Street. Be on the lookout for the performers of different groups! You’ll find that some wear traditional costumes, others dance, and the rest beats the drums while parading.

Nishinihon Ohori Fireworks

Credit: Takeshi Kuboki on Flickr

A classic summer in Fukuoka, the Nishinihon Ohori Fireworks is one of Kyushu’s biggest fireworks display! Held on 1st August yearly, more than 400,000 spectators gather around the lake at Ohori Park to witness the night skies decorated with beautiful fireworks above the city centre. Another great spot is the Fukuoka Tower but for a closer look, we definitely recommend joining the crowds at Ohori Park. Do come early though and save your spot or you might not be able to catch the fireworks from a good angle.

There you have it - 8 reasons why Fukuoka should already be on your bucket list by now! With so many things to offer, we definitely think that you’d be able to ditch the obvious cities for this underrated gem ? After all, travelling is about discovering the unknown so why not explore another city in the land of rising sun?

Enjoy amazing flight deals from Singapore to Japan by booking your tickets with CheapTickets.sg from NOW till 31st January 2019:

  • Get $20 flight discount to any city in Japan. Use code: GOJAPAN
  • Get $35 flight discount to Sapporo, Nagoya and Fukuoka. Use code: GOJAPAN35

PS. Flying from Malaysia? Check out Budgetair.com for great deals!

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This article is brought to you by CheapTickets.sg and Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO).

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